We are responsible for training others how to treat us. Which, frankly, is scary when you think about it. Not only do our beliefs shape our perception of ourselves, but they reflect onto everyone around us. We accept what we think we deserve. If our self-esteem or self-worth is low, this means we end up encouraging and accepting very little.
This becomes especially prominent in romantic relationships. Relationships where you become intertwined with another person and end up seeking a lot of your self-worth and validation from them and the relationship you share.
The beliefs we uphold
When we have low self-esteem or any negative views of ourselves, these manifest as core, unchanging beliefs. We’ve made peace with the fact we’re not worthy, and we carry this around like a weight on our shoulders. It’s something we accept that influences our perception and understanding of our identity.
These beliefs are the stories you tell yourself, and they set the foundation for how you expect others to treat you. Previous insecurities, fractured developments, or past experiences lead you to believe you deserve to be treated in a certain way.
For example, a previous breakup left you feeling not good enough. Now, you’re constantly waiting for your new partner to realise this same fact. You’re putting this story out into the world. And, whether or not you’re aware of it, will subconsciously seek reinforcement for this belief – at any cost.
How this translates to others
You’re always getting a reflection of yourself from others. Because of this, the toxic or negative behaviour of others suits us at first. You don’t feel you’re worthy. Therefore, when your partner speaks down to you, you put up with it nonetheless. They’re reinforcing a belief you already had. A story you’ve already told yourself a hundred times over.
You allow it because you don’t recognise the fact you deserve more. We end up tolerating behaviour we’re not really okay with, because we expect nothing less. And you just want to be right. You want to prove that you aren’t in fact good enough. We seek proof that we’re just as we perceive ourselves to be. All of this is an unconscious process we don’t even realise we are doing.
You have these fundamental beliefs and recognise that if you just do X, Y, or Z, your partner might act in a way that reinforces these beliefs. Eventually, they might treat you in the way you’re expecting and then you’ll prove yourself right on a deeply subconscious level.
What can be done?
If you take a step back, you can see where you are trying to reinforce yourself. When you do, you’ll quickly recognise toxicity or the negative aspects about a partner. You catch things slipping and are more likely to call them out and stand up for what you want. But a lot of this work starts with you.
Relationships like these aren’t always a lost cause. If you recognise some unsavoury traits about a partner, do you bin them off or try to make it work? Obviously, toxic relationships can escalate, and if a situation gets out of control, it’s in your best interest to leave.
But knowing whether a relationship is salvageable from a place of toxicity comes down to whether both parties are open. Is there evidence of potential for growth? Is this person open to new perspectives and prepared to meet you in the middle? Are they a fundamentally good person?
It’s about recognising the difference between a relationship in which you’re around out of fear of being alone or one that holds great potential.
The beliefs we hold about ourselves are powerful. Not only do they influence how we perceive ourselves, but they also manifest in the relationships we maintain, the partners we choose, and the way we allow ourselves to be treated. Start by asking yourself what core stories you believe about yourself and how these might be taking hold in your relationships.
If you find yourself struggling with negative views of yourself, I’d love to help. I aid my clients in uncovering whatever is holding them back, leading them on their journey to a more fulfilling, successful life. Get in touch with me here to get started.